We asked our hard-working Team FIN members to put a variety of work boots to the test by wearing them while they planted, harvested, moved cattle and did their farm chores. They then rated and described the boots' "break-in" time, sturdiness, warmth, dryness and wear. Here are some of their findings that might help you when buying your next pair of boots.
Leather. According to the testers, stiff leather took a little longer to break in but held up better in the long run. Buy a boot that is both water- and oil-resistant.
Weight. If you do a lot of walking, you may want to consider the weight of the boot; heavier boots can tire your feet more quickly.
Height. How strong are your ankles? Try different boot heights, usually 6 and 8 in. If you can twist your ankle from side to side, choose a higher support or stiffer leather.
Lining. Northern or wet climates demand a lined boot for winter. Thinsulate and Gore-Tex linings are available for warmth, among others, and breathable air insoles allow air to circulate and release moisture.
Seam Stitching. Look for double or triple stitching. The wider the stitched seam, the flatter it will be on the inside of the boot, alleviating sore spots during break-in time.
Sole. Self-cleaning soles allow you to easily kick dirt, mud and snow off the boot. Deep-treaded designs tend to hold the debris in.
Steel toes. For safety around the farm, a steel toe is warranted. Boots with steel toes are usually tax deductible if they are considered safety equipment.
Laces. How often do you change your boots in a day? Hooks are faster, so choose a lacing method based on your habits.
For more information on the boots we tested, contact Danner Shoe Mfg. Co., Dept. FIN, 12722 N.E. Airport Way, Portland, OR 97230, 800/345-0430; Case Corp., Dept. FIN, 700 State St., Racine, WI 53404, 800/288-2846; Durango Boot, Dept. FIN, 1810 Columbia Ave., Franklin, TN 37064, 615/794-1556; or Caterpillar Foot-wear, Div. of Wolverine, Dept. FIN, 9341 Courtland Dr. N.E., Rockford, MI 49351, 616/866-6271.